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Carl Van Doren (1885–1950).  The American Novel.  1921.


Page 195

Sand’s magnificent flow and color, which he oddly compared to that of Spenser in The Faerie Queene, but he thought she had too little form and too much optimism: “We suspect that something even better [than optimism] in a novelist is that tender appreciation of actuality which makes even the application of a simple coat of rose-colour seem an act of violence.” Balzac, of course, James greatly preferred to either Flaubert or George Sand, for his great range and close texture: “He has against him,” James however added, “that he lacks that slight but needful thing—charm.” The informing imagination absent from Flaubert, the substantial texture absent from George Sand, the charm absent from Balzac—all these James found in his great master and favorite Turgenev, whom in 1874, so little had he been translated further west than Paris, it was still possible to include among French novelists. Turgenev had, it seemed to James, “a deeply intellectual impulse toward universal appreciation”; he had form and grace and tenderness and irony. When James says that “the blooming fields of fiction” can hardly show “a group of young girls more radiant with maidenly charm” than Turgenev’s, or when he says that these girls “have to our sense a touch of the faintly acrid perfume of the New England temperament—a hint of Puritan angularity,” the remark throws a long light ahead on James’s own deep concern with the characters of women. And he must have had in mind a parallel between Turgenev and himself when he wrote that “Russian society, like our own, is in process of formation, the Russian character is in solution, in a sea of change, and the modified, modernized Russian, with his old limitations and



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